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Introducing Prime Factorization

Submitted by: Jennifer Smith
From: SLC, Utah
Date Submitted: April 24, 2001

A visual way to teach the concept of prime factorization is by literally creating a factor "tree." About half way up on a piece of brown construction paper, have students draw a basic tree trunk. Then have them tear leaves out of green paper and glue them on to the trunk. Label the trunk with a number that needs to be factored such as 24. Create the "roots" of the tree as you break the number down into its factors. Still using 24 as an example, draw two "roots' branching out from the base of the trunk and label them 4 and 6. Then each of those roots will branch out to create factors of their own-4 branches out into 2 x 2 and 6 branches out to 2 x 3. All of those numbers are prime so the factor "tree" is complete. You will probably want to assign a different number to each individual or small group. You may even want to challenge your students to create a factor "tree" with complex root system for a large number such as 128. If they can do that, they certainly understand the concept of prime factorization.


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